After much anticipation, here is The MOEna Lisa. A different side of DaVinci is on display here, he sounds more extroverted than he has in the past, the general tone of the music is more celebratory and upbeat. But that shift in mood is not a turn in a different direction, just a widening of perspective. There are no compromises here, no attempts to soften things up to a reach for broader appeal. We still get the same intelligent street narrative we’ve heard from him before. There’s just a little more braggadocio in it now. And it’s well earned. The MOEna Lisa is a remarkably constructed album, every aspect of it honed and polished. The rapping, the production, the mastering, everything is immaculately fine tuned.
Al Jieh, one of the album’s featured producers, hit me with this valuable bit of insight: “He [DaVinci] is not an artist that does shit for the sake of art. He’s an artist for the sake of giving people like him a voice.” That correlates neatly with my very first impression of the album – stylistically, it’s very straight forward. Rap music has ventured in some strange directions lately, and I welcome the experimentation when it’s done right. But in the aftermath of the genre bending it feels refreshing to hear somebody take a simpler, more basic approach and to execute it so well. DaVinci is not interested in re-inventing the wheel, he just wants to tell his story. So he takes the classic styles that influenced him, updates them just enough to sound modern, and lets his words do the rest.
Released via SWTBRDS, go there to read a dedication/introduction from DaVinci and to see the back cover.